The customs authorities are now empowered to halt the products imported or exported, violating the Intellectual Property Rights, or IPR.
According to the provisions of new rules, customs officials will be able to halt the import and export of products and seize or demolish those if the violation of IPR is proved.
Customs officials could stop the release of the products if they are convinced about the violation through their own investigation or after the application from IP rights holders.
The National Board of Revenue, or NBR, issued the regulation titled 'Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement (import and export) Rules-2019,' through a gazette published on November 19, 2019.
The rules will help prevent the entry of counterfeit products to the country and comply with the international best practices, customs officials said.
The tax collector framed the rules after consultation with all parties concerned, they said.
Earlier, the NBR had sent the draft IPR rules to the US Department of Justice, the US embassy in Dhaka and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, or FBCCI, seeking their opinions.
Customs officials said many of the bilateral trade partners, including the United States, have raised their concern over Bangladesh's deficiencies in IPR issues during trade negotiations.
Currently, anyone can import from any country.
With the issuance of the rules, products having IPR issues, including copyright, trademark, patent and design and geographical indication could not be exported from or imported ino Bangladesh without permission of the rights holders.
Under the rules, rights holder will be able to lodge complains by giving a notice to the customs commissioner if he or she finds or suspects any of his property is being imported or exported through the ports.
Customs officials will inform the rights holder about the acceptance or rejection of his notice regarding the IPR violation within 30 days. The notice would be valid for one year.
Rights holders will have to give a security bond as mortgage to the customs commissioner.
Rights holders will have to furnish the relevant documents of IPR to the customs. In case of perishable goods, the rights holders will have to furnish the documents within three working days.
Once the import or export is halted, the customs officials will ask the exporters or importers explaining the reason why.
The rights holders will be able to examine or collect samples of the halted products with permission from customs officials.
If the violation of IPR is proved, the importers or exporters will have to bear all costs related to the seizure of products, late fee in the port and destroying the products.
If the violation cannot be proved, the rights holder will have to bear such expenses.
As per the rules, the customs officials will have to release the halted products within 24 hours if the allegation on the IPR violation found incorrect.
However, the regulations will not be valid for the Passenger (non-tourist) Baggage (Import) Rule-2016 and Tourists Baggage (import) rule-1981 for the import of non-commercial products or samples.
As a least-developed country, Bangladesh enjoys waiver from the implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) until 2021.
The country's pharmaceuticals products will also enjoy the exemptions until 2033 under a special waiver of the Geneva-based global trade arbiter.
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